4 July 2013

StopWatch Response to Home Office Announcement of Public Consultation on Stop and Search

StopWatch welcomes the announcement made by the Home Secretary to launch a public consultation into the use of stop and search powers, but has some concerns over the timing of consultation and notes the need to ensure the consultation is meaningful and the voices of impacted communities are heard.

StopWatch welcomes the announcement made by the Home Secretary to launch a public consultation into the use of stop and search powers, although we are concerned that six weeks over the summer break is an extremely short time frame for a consultation of this scale and nature.

It is imperative that the consultation is meaningful and fully involves the voices of impacted communities. We hope that the process actively seeks out the personal experiences, perspectives and recommendations of those most affected by stop and search; specifically Black and minority ethnic communities and young people.

It is significant that the points on which we have long campaigned have been acknowledged in this announcement, namely:

• the ineffectiveness seen by the low arrest rate resulting from stops and searches;
• ethnic disproportionality, and
• the need for community engagement
.
Stop and search has toxic effects on relations between police and Britain's minorities. At a recent StopWatch event where individuals shared their experiences, young people, parents and concerned community members spoke about the negative impact stop and search has had on them. The term “trauma” was used repeatedly. Police forces cannot improve diversity in recruitment if they do not address what makes minorities feel welcome.

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